When Japan Airlines needed to get a grounded 787 in

When Japan Airlines needed
to get a grounded 787 in the air,
we did the heavy lifting.
Case Study:
Japan Airlines
Japan Airlines (JAL) is its home
country’s flag carrier. They were
one of the first airlines to fly the
revolutionary, and wildly popular,
Boeing® 787 Dreamliner® aircraft.
The plane is the cornerstone of JAL’s
fuel-saving strategy, and customers
love its unmatched creature
Being an early adopter of new aviation technology means any routine problem can become a challenge
when you’re the first to face it. When a ramp incident damaged an engine cowl on one of JAL’s 787s, they
faced an AOG (airplane on ground) situation they’d never seen before.
With just seven days to remove the grounded plane, JAL turned to UPS to figure out the logistical
conundrum of transporting a 3,500-pound replacement cowl more than 2,600 miles.
UPS utilized its ground transportation, aircraft charter and ocean freight expertise to not only get the
replacement cowl to the grounded plane, but to get the damaged part back to the factory for repairs.
We deliver a lot of critical parts.
Only a few of them weigh 3,500 pounds.
Labor Day weekend in the U.S. is one of the
busiest travel times of the year, especially to
exotic destinations like Hawaii. So when an
AOG situation arises, it’s a really big deal.
On Saturday, August 30, 2014, a jet bridge
at the Honolulu International Airport collided
with a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner,
damaging the aircraft’s left engine cowl. The
3,500-pound cowl is the front part of the
engine compartment that guides airflow into
the engine core.
The incident disabled the plane, canceling its
scheduled flight, and rendering it unable to
return to Japan for repairs.
For an older aircraft, this might have been a
quick fix. But JAL was one of the first airlines
to fly the new lightweight, fuel-efficient
787 Dreamliner after it debuted a few years
earlier. So spare parts for 787s, especially
parts that weigh nearly two tons, weren’t
so easy to find on a holiday weekend.
“At a home station in Japan, a situation like
this is easier to resolve,” said Takashi Ogata,
Logistic Management Staff Manager for JAL
Engineering. “In most cases, we would have
a spare aircraft available to substitute for the
grounded one. But at a foreign airport, we
were forced to cancel the flight.”
The nearest replacement cowl was 2,600
miles away, and moving such an enormous
part presented a logistical challenge. To
further complicate matters, the Honolulu
airport had given JAL seven days to remove
the grounded plane.
“This kind of aircraft downtime means a
significant revenue loss from flight schedule
disruptions, cancelled flights and additional
expenses such as layover fees, hotel
accommodation and food and beverage
expenses for passengers,” Ogata said.
“But what worried us most was losing
the confidence of our valued customers.”
On Sunday, August 31, Ogata called Yuichiro
Asari, JAL’s UPS account executive in Tokyo.
“We needed a top-notch logistics partner to
handle this unprecedented challenge,” Ogata
said. “We chose UPS because we believed
their professionalism, practical experience
and knowledge uniquely qualified them to
deliver this huge aircraft part.”
JAL had located the replacement cowl at a
UTC Aerospace Systems facility in Chula Vista,
CA. Now it needed someone to figure out
how to bring the piece to Honolulu.
Asari and Sachiko Wakui, UPS Global Japan
Sales Manager, went to work. Wakui, who
was traveling in Texas when the cowl was
damaged, returned immediately to her office
in Los Angeles.
“Our relationship with JAL was fairly new,”
she said. “We’d been shipping spare parts
for them for about a year, but moving the
cowl on such a tight deadline was a much
bigger job.”
But situations like this weren’t new to UPS.
The world’s largest shipping and logistics
company offers multiple modes of transport,
an extensive network of partners and
deep experience solving customers’ most
challenging problems.
While Wakui provided almost hourly updates
to anxious JAL executives, UPS logisticians
addressed the colossal and meticulous task of
delivering the replacement cowl. UPS worked
with UTC to thoroughly understand the cowl’s
design specs, so they could determine the
best way to transport it.
On the morning of Friday, September 5,
UPS arranged ground transportation on a
flatbed truck from Chula Vista to the San
Diego International Airport. The 16-mile drive
required special permits and an escort vehicle
for the oversized load.
In San Diego, workers loaded the cowl onto
a chartered Boeing 747. UPS had determined
that only a 747 with nose-loading capability
could accommodate the immense part. The
flight departed for Honolulu at 5:15 pm.
“We needed a top-notch logistics partner to handle this unprecedented challenge.
We chose UPS because we
believed their professionalism, practical experience and
knowledge uniquely qualified
them to deliver this huge
aircraft part.”
Takashi Ogata
Logistic Management Staff
Manager for JAL Engineering
cowl, and the newly repaired 787 Dreamliner
departed Honolulu for Narita International
Airport in Japan. UPS then shipped the
damaged cowl by ocean freight to the U.S.
mainland for its long road trip for repairs at
a UTC factory in Alabama.
“Our team acted quickly, relying on our vast
multi-modal expertise,” Wakui said. “It was a
delicate operation that put our logistics skills
and ingenuity to the test.”
JAL was grateful and quick to praise UPS’s
fast and skillful response.
“I think that, but for the UPS team’s support,
we could not have successfully accomplished
this task,” Ogata said. “We were most
impressed by UPS, and we hope to develop
an even stronger relationship with UPS for
future business.”
The next morning mechanics installed the
To learn more: visit ups.com/aerospace.
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